I was twenty years of age, born in 1969, when I first encountered my first panic attack. I remember it so well to this day, and will never forget it.
It was horrific, terrifying, the symptoms of sweating, trembling, palpatations, tightness in my chest, I felt so alone, I had never experienced one before, and had no idea why it happened. I was convinced I was having a heart attack so much so I phone the emergency services, and spoke to the operator, describing my symptoms, she assured me it was just a panic attack, and advised me to blow into a paper bag which I did, it helped slightly, but the following days were worse, so I decided to visit my doctor.
I felt so alone, in a dark place
After several days I saw my doctor and explaining what happened, he was very sympathetic, asked me questions like - was I worried or stressed about anything? I told him I was happy in my life, I had a good job, was happily married with two kids. At this point my doctor did not offer medication, or the option to talk to anyone, I think he wanted to see how I got on the following days and weeks.
My anxiety was in control of me
Over the he following days and weeks I became worse. The panic attacks were becoming more frequent, as was my anxiety, so much so it was starting to effect my life and my work life. I was running out of my job in sheer panic, taking days off and my social life were I was hardly seeing my friends, my marriage, everything was having an impact on my life. Several times it was so severe, I visited my local hospital several times, again thinking I was going to die, they gave me some medication, and advised me to go back to my doctor.
Returning to my doctor, I was given a course of antidepressants and diazepam, to try to help, which they did but only to a certain extent, but I didint feel enough. I was also given the opportunity to talk to someone, which I refused, I didint want to go down that road for some reason, I was reluctant.
I was beginning to feel my whole life was crippled, my doctor diagnosed me with chronic anxiety, I couldn’t participate in everyday activities, go on holiday, I just felt isolated from society.
My father understood, he was agrohobic
In his late thirties my father also suffered from chronic anxiety and panic attacks. He became much worse when he went on to suffer agoraphobia becoming a prisoner in his own home for over twenty years. He didint want the same for me as a young man.
For our family to see my dad like this was awful, he was crippled, and we could do nothing but keep him company as this is all he had. Throughout my anxiety, my father was a terrific support for me, he had so much knowledge, he played a big part in saving me from becoming agrophobic, I just wish he could have helped himself more, but it was to late, it had a firm grip of him.
Through the help of my dad, and doctor, I was gradually, slowly getting better after a twenty year battle, my doctor gave me fantastic support, he became a friend, he knew everything I went through, so much so that he encouraged me to take up counselling, and gave me a reference stating that I would be a good counsellor, that reference that I still use to this day is a god send to me, it’s helped to get to were I am today.
Time for me to take control of my life
After twenty years of awful chronic anxiety, panic attacks, countless medications, talking to my father and doctor, I decided to purchase some books on anxiety, and CBT, along with completing my CBT diploma through the Institute of Counselling, I now have a much better understanding of anxiety and the impact it has on peoples lives and also that of their families.
Thankfully now I’m free of chronic anxiety, panic attacks, and luckily escaped becoming agrophobic, which I will always be thankful for.
James Durning has studied with the Institute of Counselling for the last six years, he has achieved four diplomas and 1,360 CPD hours. He has been a dedicated member of the National Counselling Society since 2014 with an additional 46 CPD hours. Spending his time as an administrator for an online bereavement support group, helping those most in need in times of grief. Supporting people experiencing this very human condition is something that James is passionately dedicated to.